So this is a thing.
Poor Facebook. Having caught the attention, imagination and colour-matching skills of the world’s youth, they’ve only gone and messed it all up. This is Ratner-meets-New Coke, this is, all wrapped as ARTPOP. When once FB dragged everybody into its absent-mindedly oh where’s the past hour gone timesink territory, its target audience has rushed to find places where the experience is quicker, sharper, more fun. Why poke and play games when you can SnapChat, or Vine, away from a site which has failed to cut its bloat or redress its cluttered over-ambition?
The introduction of hashtags onto the FB newsfeed ‘did’ for it among social media watchers, much as many an attempted rebrand did for companies and titles over the years. Whilst soap operas can just about get away with new younger actors suddenly appearing as much loved characters regenerated younger, fitter, more willing to show six-packs as and when, Facebook looked decidedly out of breath. Hashtags on a website with an existing search function, why that’s Twitter, that is. Hashtags that can’t be correctly used, adequately collated or easily saved? Oooh, I see what you’re doing here, FB, you’re getting things wrong.
Now comes Trending Topics, a blatant lift from Twitter that looks so fussy and badly designed I’m surprised it hasn’t been incorporated with a link to MySpace, just to seal the deal completely. Why design functionality that jars so badly against the cogs and wheels of an already wobbly looking concept? Why should Facebook regulars be introduced to a service that is already established on a rival site, executed far better by that rival site, and without any full-scale refurbishment of existing processes to ease an increasingly middle-aged demographic into a concept that might appear alien or confusing?
The changing face of Internet rapidity has caught many old guards completely off guard. BuzzFeed and UpWorthy capture the instant regurgitation of news with increasing professionalism, and Twitter holds up well in an age where its own success has been hitting it pretty hard by way of a 24-hr news network more confident about using as-live sources. Even blessed Wikipedia, long since faded away as the Dowager Duchess of the Internet’s 2.0 community, busies itself as it slowly turns into a handy-man for an essentially completed project. But poor Facebook has been left standing. It cannot compete for chat against the smartphone set, nor can it function as a news-facing react-and-response service. It’s even beginning to look a tad out of step against Google+, the mad drunk Madonna-after-Frozen corner of the web, whose latest regeneration focuses on what Google does best (spy on all your emai….I mean, use video and audio tech for the good of TED’s loyal crowd of fans.)
Maybe curiosity will help Trending Topics settle into the already stuffed sidebars of Facebook’s interface. Alas curiosity often ends in either boredom or embarrassment, depending on whatever it was you were doing to distract yourself from whatever else you were doing. FB is no longer the distraction, or distractor, it used to be. Putting arrows next to catchphrases, a trick it’s nabbed from Mashable of all places, won’t help its slow decline.